Quote/s of the Day – 4 January – Saturday of Christmas – the Memorial of Saint Angela of Foligno (1248-1309)
“Dear brothers and sisters, Blessed Angela’s life began with a worldly existence, rather remote from God. Yet her meeting with the figure of St Francis and, finally, her meeting with Christ Crucified, reawakened her soul to the presence of God, for the reason that with God alone life becomes true life, because, in sorrow for sin, it becomes love and joy. And this is how Blessed Angela speaks to us.
Today we all risk living as though God did not exist, God seems so distant from daily life. However, God has thousands of ways of His own for each one, to make Himself present in the soul, to show that He exists and knows and loves me. And Blessed Angela wishes to make us attentive to these signs with which the Lord touches our soul, attentive to God’s presence, so as to learn the way with God and towards God, in communion with Christ Crucified.
Let us pray the Lord that He make us attentive to the signs of His presence and that He teach us truly to live.”
Pope Benedict XVI A talk on Angela of Foligno – October, 2010
“O children of God, transform yourselves totally in the human-God who so loved you that He chose to die for you, a most ignominious and altogether unutterably painful death and in the most painful and bitterest way. And this was solely for love of you, O human being.”
One Minute Reflection – 4 January – Saturday of Christmas, Readings:
1 John 3:7-10, Psalm 98:1, 7-9, John 1:35-42
He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying and they stayed with him that day … John 1:39
REFLECTION – “John was there and two of his disciples with him.” John was such “a friend of the Bridegroom” that he did not seek his own glory, he simply bore witness to the truth (Jn 3:29.26). Did he dream of keeping back his disciples and preventing them from following the Lord? Not in the least. He himself showed them the one they were to follow (…) He declared: “Why cling to me? I am not the Lamb of God. Behold the Lamb of God (…) Behold him who takes away the sins of the world.”
At these words the two disciples who were with John followed Jesus. “Jesus turned and saw that they were following him and said to them: ‘What are you looking for?’ They said to him: ‘Rabbi, where are you staying?” As yet they were not following Him definitively, as we know, they joined themselves to Him when He called them to leave their boat (…), when He said to them: “Come after me and I will make you fishers of men” (Mt 4:19). That was the moment they joined Him definitively, no longer to leave Him. But for now they wanted to see where Jesus was living and put into practice the words of Scripture: “If you see an intelligent man, seek him out at daybreak; let your feet wear away his doorstep! Learn from him the precepts of the Lord” (cf. Sir 6:36f.). So Jesus showed them where He was living, they went and stayed with Him. What a happy day they spent! What a blessed night! Who can say what it was they heard from the Lord’s mouth? Let us, too, build a dwelling in our hearts, construct a house where Christ can come to teach and converse with us.” … St Augustine (354-430) Bishop of Hippo, Father & Doctor of the Church – Sermons on Saint John’s Gospel, no 7
PRAYER – Almighty God, the light of a new star in heaven, heralded Your saving love . Let the light of Your salvation dawn in our hearts and keep them always open to Your life-giving grace. May we stay with Your Son, for He will teach us Your ways. Kindly hear the prayers on our behalf of Mary our mother and of all Your saints and may St Angela of Foligno intercede today on our behalf. Through Christ, our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, God now and forever, amen.
Saint of the Day – 16 December – Blessed Mary of the Angels Fontanella OCD (1661-1717) “The Fragrant Rose of Turin,” Discalced Carmelite, Mystic, Stigmatist, Marian devotee and client of St Joseph, Prioress, Spiritual director – born as Marianna Fontanella on 7 January 1661 at Balderino, Italy and died on 16 December 1717 of natural causes at Turin, Iraly. Also known as Maria degli Angeli, Maria Fontanella of the Angels. Bl Mary studied with the Cistercians as a child and entered the Discalced Carmelites despite the protests of her mother and siblings – she soon became a noted abbess and prioress and in 1703 inaugurated a new convent she herself oversaw the establishment of and later, instigated the building of a beautiful Basilica in honour of the Blessed Virgin.
Marianna Fontanella came into the world on January 7, 1661. She was the youngest of 11 children born to Count Giovanni of Turin and his wife, Lady Maria Tana. The mother had among her close relatives, the mother of St Aloysius de Gonzaga SJ (1568-1591), a youthful aristocrat who renounced a life of privilege to become a holy Jesuit. The fact that there was an official Saint counted among her kin was undoubtedly a source of pride for the family but it wasn’t enough to impress Marianna to want to become one too. It was related that this Blessed initially lived her early years in a manner typical of her high social status – she was well-educated, pampered and exposed to all sorts of social niceties and assemblies … and she enjoyed it all, especially the fancy outfits and the dances.
However, on one particular day, while still a young child, she sat in front of a mirror admiring herself when her own reflection vanished to be replaced by a vision – Christ appeared in the mirror, sadly staring back at her, battered and crowned with thorns. The experience so shocked Marianna that it had the immediate effect of a lasting conversion. From that moment on she shunned her elaborate wardrobe and jewellery and began exercising a devout mode of living despite her tender age. In 1667 she schemed with a little brother to imitate the saints and to run off to live “in the desert” though, at the time they were meant to begin this journey, the two were so fast asleep that their plan was spoiled.
Due to her familial relationship with him, she adopted Saint Luigi Gonzaga as a model for personal holiness and made an effort to imitate the late saint’s example. In 1673 as a 12-year-old, Marianna accompanied one of her sisters to the Cistercian Monastery in Saluzzo where the latter was entering into religious life. Somehow, Marianna was able to persuade her parents to allow her to board with the nuns and she remained with them for over a year until her mother recalled her home due to the unexpected death of her father. Back at the family villa, she resisted her family’s efforts to marry her off and she practised a regimen of prayer and self-mortification. Apparently, while with the Cistercians, an earlier resolve she made to become a nun had strengthened but she was undecided as to which order to join.
After providentially meeting and speaking with a venerable Carmelite priest during one of the rare public exhibitions of the Holy Shroud of Turin, Marianna applied with the local Discalced Carmelite Monastery of Santa Cristina. Lady Maria reluctantly consented when it became clear that her daughter could not be dissuaded, so Marianna made her entrance into Carmel on 19 November 1675, she was 14-years-old and took the name Maria of the Angels.
The first year in the monastery was not easy for the aspiring nun. The sweetness of spirit and the divine favours she had started to enjoy before entering, evaporated, leaving Sr Maria with a terrible dryness in her soul. She clung desperately to her faith and, guided by a meticulous novice mistress, she managed to reach profession on 26 December 1676… but the sense of separation from God – the “dark night of the soul” – continued to torment her for the next 15 years. The devil aggravated the situation, via severe temptations and diabolic assaults.
Fortunately, the beleagured nun weathered her personal storm through the consistent practice of virtue, especially humility and obedience towards her superiors. All that she suffered, served to purify her spirit, as Jesus was leading her on a singular path of extraordinary mystical union with Himself, as was proven later on.
By 1691 Sr Maria was finally free of the darkness and began experiencing supernatural lights with greater intensity. Sublime visions of Christ and heavenly inhabitants resumed, along with other mystical gifts such as Prophecy, the Stigmata and the Fragrance of Sanctity. It was reported that the beautiful scent that constantly surrounded her was so obvious, that the other nuns could track her whereabouts by following the aroma she left in her wake. The Blessed, on her part, took to carrying small bundles of flowers and spices to try to disguise the heavenly scent but to no avail – it increased on feast days and during times when she was ill and unable to take precautions, to disguise the fragrance. Even things she handled, were imbued with the delightful scent!
Noting her many virtues and fine example of Carmelite spirituality, the community elected Sr Maria to the post of novice mistress in 1691 then prioress in 1694. Word soon spread outside of the monastery about the extraordinary prioress and people began seeking her counsel and prayers, including the reigning king of the region, Vittorio Amadeo II of the royal house of Savoy and other members of the nobility. Vocations to the Carmel of St Cristina increased, which necessitated the founding of another monastery in nearby Moncalieri in 1703, with the encouragement from Blessed Sebastian Valfrè CO (1629-1710). Sr Maria had hoped to transfer there, to be away from the centre of the limelight but the king explicitly forbade her to ever leave Turin, due to his dependence on her advice and his devotion to her.
Public esteem for the prioress reached a pinnacle in 1696 when the city was besieged by an invading army. She publicly announced that the city would be saved if people turned to St Joseph, for help, which they did. Turin was liberated and, in gratitude, St Joseph was proclaimed the Patron Saint of the city by the king. Similarly, in 1706 when the French besieged the city, the citizens and royals turned to the intercession of their resident mystic – the nun invoked the Holy Virgin’s protection and the city’s army was again victorious. At Sr Mary’s urging, a church – the great Basilica of the Superga (Superga is a Hill in Turin) – was built to commemorate the victory and to honour Our Lady.
Sr Maria of the Angels died peacefully in her monastery on 16 December 1717, after living a productive life of prayer, self-sacrifice and service to her beloved people. She was 56-years-old at the time of her death and all of Turin mourned the passing of she, who had saved them from wars and even a plague in 1714.
At the instigation of King Vittorio, the holy nun’s Cause for Canonisation was started just a few years after the death of Sr Maria. Pope Pius IX declared her a Blessed on 25 April 1865 but a second miracle has yet to be officially recognised for the prioress to reach sainthood. Let us pray for her speedy Canonisation.
Saint of the Day – 11 December – Blessed Francesco Lippi O.Carm (1211-1291) also known as Blessed Franco of Siena – Carmelite Hermit, Mystic, Penitent, with the gift of prophesy. Born in c 1211 at Grotti-Siena, Italy and died on 11 December 1291 in Siena, Italy of natural causes, aged 80.
Blessed Francesco was born at Grotti, Italy of the noble parents, Matteo and Dorotea Lippi.
He spent his dissolute adolescence as a soldier who indulged in many vices. His military unit captured Sarteano from the Orvientani but, during the fighting, he was blinded in 1261. In his supplication in prayer, he promised to change his life if he was healed and regained his sight. After praying fervently to Saint James for his intercession, his sight was indeed restored.
He travelled on a pilgrimage to Campostella and to the Basilica di San Nicola in Bari to visit the tomb of Saint Nicholas. He also travelled to both Loreto, Rome and Siena, where he heard the preaching of Blessed Ambrose Sansedoni OP, a renowned preacher whose oratory, simple rather than elegant, was most convincing and effective. Thereafter, Blessed Francesco resolved to live the remainder of his life as a hermit and to do penance for his earlier life. He shut himself in a small cell and remained there from 1261 to 1266.
Then he entered the Carmelite Order and continued to live as a hermit. He experienced visions of Jesus Christ and the Madonna as well as seeing angels and experiencing the temptations of demons. He became well-known for his prophetic gifts.
He died on 11 December 1291. Part of his relics were relocated to a Carmelite convent in Cremona in 1341.
The confirmation of the late Lippi’s ‘cultus’ (or popular devotion) allowed for Pope Clement X to approve his Beatification in 1670.
Thought for the Day – 29 November – The Memorial of Blessed Bernardo Francisco de Hoyos SJ (1711-1735) – First apostle of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Spain.
“On that day you will realise that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you.”
Today’s young Saint and Mystic, Blessed Bernardo’s devotion led him to the most exquisite union with the Sacred Heart of Jesus … the spiritual marriage. Yes. It is no less strange however, that the Word, left His Father, to become one with man, to become Bread from Heaven.
I read someplace that Bl Bernardo’s intercession is especially helpful to those who struggle with the vice of impurity. I think Bernardo’s devotion to the Sacred Heart – the complete surrender of all his affections – is an antidote to all impurity. The grace of espousal seems to me, to be similar to the consummate love of Jesus in the Eucharist for us, whereby He gives us His body, blood, soul and divinity at every Communion. Isn’t it like that? Isn’t that total union what we are called to? At every Communion – even when I feel nothing, see nothing, hear nothing – it seems especially then, that faith supplies.
I never had experiences such as those Bl Bernardo participated in – I’m just grateful to be able to be recollected after each Communion and sometimes, to receive immense consolation too. Knowing He is there and I am with Him. I like the way Bl Bernardo put it: “I see that everything in my heart is moving towards God, drawn like iron to a magnet. It desires only God, searches only for God and longs only for God….”For Bernardo, that was his constant state – and he remained faithful to the graces he received. For me, perhaps this desire is only imperfectly experienced in the thanksgiving after Communion. Which is why I never want to waste those moments of recollection.
“Always holding my right hand, the Lord had me occupy the empty throne, then He fitted on my finger a gold ring…. “May this ring be an earnest of our love. You are Mine and I am yours. You may call yourself and sign Bernardo de Jesus, thus, as I said to my spouse, Santa Teresa, you are Bernardo de Jesus and I am Jesus de Bernardo. My honour is yours, your honor is Mine. Consider My glory that of your Spouse, I will consider yours, that of My spouse. All Mine is yours and all yours is Mine. What I am by nature you share by grace. You and I are one!”– The Visions of Bernard Francis De Hoyos, S.J. by Henri Bechard, S.J.
In the ascetic-mystical life of the saints, God Himself purifies the soul of disordered passions in and through purifying trials and temptations. Thus proving true Christ’s words, ‘what is impossible for man is possible for God.’ Blessed Bernardo was no exception.
As Catholics, we are not at all surprised by the ‘mystical marriage of today’s young Saint with Jesus’. However, it seems the rest are prone to think this an unusual and strange occurrence and regard it as an aberration, so please if you search Blessed Bernardo you might be horrified at some nasty statements – don’t be – you know the better part!
Saint of the Day – 29 November – Blessed Bernardo Francisco de Hoyos SJ (1711-1735) Professed Priest of the Society of Jesus, Mystic, Apostle of the Sacred Heart – born on 21 August 1711 at Torrelobatón, Valladolid, Kingdom of Spain (1711-08-21) and died on 29 November 1735, Valladolid, Spain of natural causes (typhoid), aged 24. The miracle for his Beatification involved a young lady with typhoid.
Bernardo Francisco de Hoyos de Seña was born on 21 August 1711 to Don Manuel de Hoyos and Doña Francisca de Seña. His father worked at the town hall at Torrelobatón near Valladolid. He was baptised on 6 September in his local parish church in the names of “Bernardo Francisco Javier.” He was named in honour of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux and Saint Francis Xavier. He received his Confirmation in 1720.
On 11 July 1726, a not quite fifteen year old Bernardo Francisco de Hoyos y Seña crossed the threshold of the Jesuit novitiate of the Province of Castile. Straightaway he chose the Flemish Saint John Berchmans SJ as his model and intercessor. At his profession on 12 July 1728, he heard Our Lord say to him: “From today on I will unite Myself more intimately to you because of my love for you.” Our Lord, His Virgin Mother, Saint Ignatius, Saint Teresa of Avila and other celestial visitors manifested themselves to the young Jesuit, conversed with him, counselled him and encouraged him. In 1726 both Aloysius Gonzaga SJ and Stanislaus Kostka SJ were Canonised by Pope Benedict XIII. The two became models of holiness for the Jesuit priest, as well as John Berchmans who was already on the course for Canonisation.
On 10 August 1729, the Saviour, covered with His Precious Blood, appeared to Bernardo, and showing him the wound in His Side, said, “Rejected by humanity, I come to find my consolation with chosen souls.” Bernardo’s experience closely resembles that of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque fifty-three years earlier in the Visitation Monastery of Paray-le-Monial in France.
Bernardo was ordained a priest on 2 January 1735, for which he had to obtain special permission due to his young age. Saint John the Evangelist and Saint Francis de Sales, mystically present at the ordination, served as his “godfathers” in the priesthood. In that same year he wrote:
Hitherto I had great confidence in my prayers and petitions, depending on the intercession of the Heart of Jesus, at present I have no doubt about obtaining whatsoever I ask, if it is for the greater glory of God. I am convinced that at the altar, the Eternal Father can refuse me nothing . . . I find myself with views like that of Venerable Father La Colombière concerning the greatness of this sacrifice. Here I am as if I were triumphant, for it seems to me not only that I am making reparation for myself and for the whole world but that the Eternal Father is my debtor.
Now and again, during Mass . . . a word of the Eternal Father has assured me of the satisfaction He takes in His Son and in His Heart and how this satisfaction may embolden me, even at the sight of my sins and ingratitude, to presume as much as I fancy, for all is contained in the merits of Jesus, whose minister I am and whose place I take.”
Father Bernardo de Hoyos died on 29 November 1735 at the age of twenty-four. He left behind the memory of his brief but fruitful ministry as a priest, the reputation of a charism for delivering souls from the vice of impurity – his book, The Hidden Treasure,published under the name of Father John de Loyola and a wealth of detailed accounts of his mystical experiences of the Heart of Jesus.
On 17 January 2009, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, met with the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Archbishop Angelo Amato, S.D.B. The Pope authorised the promulgation of a number of decrees, among them the recognition of a miracle attributed to the Servant of God Bernardo Francisco Hoyos.
On 19 April 2010, Father Bernardo Francisco de Hoyos was beatified in Valladolid, Spain. The ceremony was presided over by Archbishop Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. In addition to nearly a 1,000 priests and more the 20,000 faithful, approximately fifty bishops and cardinals attended the ceremony. The new Blessed’s liturgical memorial was confirmed for today, the anniversary of his death.
Quote of the Day – 19 November – Tuesday of the Thirty Third Week of Ordinary Time, Year C, Gospel: Luke 19:1–10 and the Memorial of St Matilda/Mechtilde of Hackeborn (c 1241-1298)
Devotion of the Three Hail Marys
St Matilda of Hackeborn
was distressed over her eternal salvation
and prayed that the Most Holy Virgin
would assist her at the hour of death.
The Blessed Virgin appeared to her
and reassured her, saying:
“Yes, I will! But I wish, for your part, that you recite three Hail Marys everyday, remembering, in the first, the power received from the Eternal Father, in the second, the wisdom received from the Son, with the third one, the love that has filled the Holy Spirit”.
The Blessed Virgin taught her to pray
and to understand especially,
how the Three Hail Mary’s,
honour, the three persons
of the Blessed Trinity.